A tale of two forwards

Heard Bill Ryan talking on the Coodabeens on Saturday. He was  a club stalwart in the halcyon days of footy, playing 167 games, kicking 220 goals. Memories of my early years as a Cats supporter. I first barracked for them in 1969, their eighth and last finals campaign in a great run. In 1970 they fell just short, finishing 5th, two games out of the four,then the wheels really fell off in 1971.

The Cats finished 10th, saving a bit of face late in the season, winning 3 of their final 5 games. They also said hello to a classy new recruit in David Clarke and farewell to a favourite son, Billy Goggin, but it is their two key forwards in Bill Ryan and Doug Wade I’ll focus on.

The season started with a drubbing at the hands of St Kilda. Despite the Cats leading at quarter time, 5-2-31 to 2-4-16, the Saints ran away to a 21-25-151 to 8-9-57 win over the Cats. The faithful left Kardinia Park that afternoon, unsure what the season held. A win over South Melbourne at the Lakeside Oval occurred the following week giving reason for hope, but Geelong did not win again until they next played South Melboune, at Kardinia Park, in R13, their second of five wins for the season. At the end of the year they languished in 10th spot, only ahead of Essendon and South Melbourne.

For Geelong the twin forward options of Bill Ryan at centre half forward and Doug Wade at full forward were one of the few saving graces of a long 1971. Wade finished the year with 94 goals, Ryan 67. Ryan also represented Victoria, as well as compiling16 (18?) Brownlow votes. Wade ‘s performance is even more meritorious considering he missed two games with injury, and limped off early in the R 22 clash with Richmond. From the R1 defeat at the hands of St Kilda, in which Ryan and Wade kicked 3 each in the tally of 8 goals, they were the key to Geelong putting a score on the board .  Despite finishing 10th Geelong were the 6th highest scoring team that season, finishing only 33 points behind reigning premiers Carlton, who finished up 5th.

Some performances that stick in mind include the two clashes vs North Melbourne. In the R9  match at a windy, Arden Steet, North Melbourne won 16-28-124 to Geelong 16 -13- 109. Ryan and Wade kicked 7 each, a staggering total of 14 out of Geelongs 16 that day. When the two sides played later in the season at Kardinia Park, Wade excelled with 13, and Ryan again kicked 7 in a tally of  24-7-151 as the Cats cruised home by 75 points, North Melbourne managing 11-10-76.  The week after they beat Footscray at Kardinia Park, wining 18-18-126 to 15-5–95. Wade had a quiet day with 3, but Ryan dobbed 8 from Centre Half Forward. A few weeks prior when they suprised Colling wood in their R 18 clash at Kardinia Park, Wade kicked a lazy 9, Ryan helped with 6 more.

1972 saw another disappointing year for Geelong who finished 10th again. In front of goal Wade again got into the 90s, finishing with exactly 90, despite missing the R1 match against South Melbourne. Ryan did not have a stellar year, spending much time away from Centre Half Forward, often in the Back Pocket. This was the last year at Geelong for this pair,with Wade going to North Melbourne under the 10 year rule, Ryan headed up to Queensland to open news agent.

Ohh, memories of ole’ time footy.


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